I’m just an insurance guy

I know, ewwwww right? Don’t make eye contact with that guy, we will never get rid of him. If you shake his hand he will try to slip you his business card.

I might not be selling a tangible product, but when you need it you will not only hope you have some, but enough of it as well. Maybe I’ll get some love at that point, huh?

This is probably a shock to most that I actually do have a day job and I am not the social media maven/guru power blogger I appear to be on television. But you know what, insurance has been a pretty sweet gig for me.

Who chooses an insurance career anyway?

Well, I guess I did but it wasn’t my first choice upon entering college. It just so happens as part of the business curriculum one of the required courses was ‘Intro to Insurance’. Not only was it an intro, but I discovered they even had a degree program for it.

I thought insurance was sales only and it was the guy on Main Street you bought your car insurance from. You have to go to college to do this?

What I did find out

Yes, sales are a big part of it because nothing happens until the sale is made, but it really is only the tip of the iceberg.

Look around you; almost everybody needs insurance. The municipality you live in; the ocean liner that runs aground; the planes that fly in the air; the professional engineer who designs the structures; the contractor who built the roads, businesses or houses; your doctors; the car you drive, the house you live in; your workers, their family; on and on and on.

Whoa, that’s a lot of insurance isn’t it? And guess what, they will buy it from someone; most of it is non-optional.

How do you get into this business?

College in not a pre-requisite, but advisable if you want to be able to advance to the top jobs. However, I know some people in sales without a degree who have done very well for themselves.

Unfortunately, there are not many training platforms for insurance careers. Therefore, there is a real need that could be filled. There are a hand full of universities who have degree programs, but not enough.

Most of the time, people just ‘fall’ into insurance and have to rely on ‘seat of the pants’ training provided by the carrier or agency; some is good and some is not. You still have the challenge of getting in the door without any previous experience or training.

What jobs are available?

Certainly sales, because nothing happens without it. However, once you have a customer there is a certain level of service to be provided. The service team has to not only be able to think on their feet, but be able to talk ‘insurance’ as well.

Other positions available are IT, accounting, management, HR and social/writers, and that is only within an insurance agency. The larger agencies will have positions in loss control (safety) and claims management services too.

At the company level you have those same positions and also marketing, underwriting, claims, medical, loss control, actuarial and legal.

All of these positions require continuing education; I am always amazed at the depth of knowledge the people I work with have.

Where are you going with this? 

The industry is hiring; we are always looking for bright, sharp people. Unfortunately, ‘insurance’ typically is not identified as glamorous or sexy and not on the top of the career choice list.

I would like to change that; we need to attract bright, young, sharp minds to keep raising the talent level bar.

Pass the word along to people you know; lobby your educators and vocational schools and inform them there is a void that needs to be filled. The economy might have tanked, but people will always buy insurance.

That’s who I am

Ok community, that was my plug for the insurance industry. I have been very blessed to be an owner and affiliated with Lanier Upshaw, Inc for the last 28+ years.

Insurance is not a ‘four-letter’ word; there has to be some fun in it to keep me around this long, right?


51 thoughts on “I’m just an insurance guy

  1. Ah, Bill, finally, a convergence of your two worlds!

    I think that you could be a real trailblazer in the insurance sector when it comes to ‘bringing sexy back’!

    I have a few clients in the insurance industry, and they could really learn a lot from someone like you. I see a so many opportunities for them to leverage blogging and social media to their best business advantage, but they are lightyears away. They are still putting out conventional, one-dimensional, non-tweetable newsletters.

    So are you planning on bringing your company more into the blogosphere spotlight? Or was this a one-time sneak peak at your professional life?

    • I will run on parallel tracks but when appropriate there will be convergence. Some iteration of this post will probably be posted on the company site at http://www.lanierupshaw.com. As much as I like the ‘social’ part I probably will be devoting more time to our corporate site.

      We are just scratching the surface on the corporate site, but I’m excited the direction we have it headed in.

      In my world of insurance, I get to meet people and help them solve problems to improve their bottom line. In social, I’m doing some of the same things so it’s a good fit for me.

      I definitely know the importance of two-communication and try to keep that in mind when I’m projecting out anything.

      Thanks for your comments as this was a surprise, mid-afternoon post on a Friday. A first for me…….

      I hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Okay, I am the person who slams the door on an insurance guys face. But because I failed to realize that they just aren’t always the selling kinds! I have a few friends who have ventured into insurance and at get together they get to be the butt of all jokes.

    But loved the sneak peek into your professional life. What after the scared face on the timeline…we should have guessed!

    • We are used to it; we don’t take it personally…….:). Fortunately, I don’t do the door to door kind, but I will walk in a business without an appointment and see if I can talk with the person who ‘handles’ the insurance. Usually some research has been done and I at least know the owner’s name however.

      Insurance is right up there w/ attorney as being on the wrong end of a joke……we are used to that too……

      My world is commercial insurance and if you are going to be in business you will buy insurance. This still won’t make you like it, so we try to make it as painless as possible. They are going to buy it from somebody, so it might as well be me, right?

      I will say though, there are some really good people and some really good jobs in this industry. Once you are in it, it really isn’t the green booger everybody thinks it is.

      Be nice to your insurance guy; it could be me….:). Thanks for stopping by; hope you have a great weekend.

  3. Dude.
    Our insurance went from $1,700.00 yearly to $67,000.00+ overnight!! After 9-11. It put 95% of horse-outfitters out of business in Alaska- poof! Horses being sold, trauma, heartbreak, bla, bla, bla.

    That first year- we were lucky to find another company and it ONLY cost just over $40G, but that was by the skin of our teeth. EVERY one was freakin!

    Found a better one within, 2-3 years, but holy-moley, dude!

    Thanks for reminding us that you are not ONLY the Super Star we have all come to know and love!

    • Easy now, I’m just the broker; not the insurance company. Don’t be shootin’ at me when I come to visit………:). We experienced the same thing in Florida after several big hurricanes. Nobody wanted to write property insurance and if they did, it was 4-5 times higher if not more and with much higher deductibles.

      Trust me, I don’t like to buy insurance any more than anyone else so I try to make it as painless as I can.

      When cost or lack of availability is putting people out of business, that is never a good thing. We work very hard with our customers to make sure that doesn’t happen.

      Unfortunately, it can be cyclical and most of it is out of your control.

      Has it settled down for you now? If you want, I can check w/ some of the specialty markets we deal with and see who is doing a good job for horse outfitters.

      Thanks for stopping by; I figured a post like this would bring out the ‘oh shit’ stories. Actually, it’s those stories that create opportunities for us so that is why we don’t want it happening to our customers.

  4. Bill,

    As you (probably don’t) recall, I spent 16 years in P&C agency insurance for Marsh, Aon et al in Chicago and here in South Florida…I have a MBA and did the technical/service/advisory side. Honestly the agency thing here has been dying out for all the reasons you are aware of as a Floridian, over the last say 6 or so years, but it is NOT a boring job! I made great money doing it and was plenty challenged with fun projects like getting hulls from South Africa to Holland for build out, in addition to the every day stuff of street and road, colleges, and country clubs. Actually now that you mention it, I kind of miss it, but there haven’t been any good jobs for service people here in a long time.

    • Unfortunately with the mergers and acquisitions a lot of talented people lost their jobs. On top of that, the young, qualified, talented people are not coming up through the ranks. Everybody is trying to do more with less and the service has suffered.

      Yes, the industry has changed but people and businesses will always need insurance; the delivery process will continue to evolve.

      I do like the diversity and challenge of my job; I have an account right now that is an attraction and not only do we have a restaurant, store & museum exposure but also planes, cars, boats, ropes course and citrus groves. It just about covers all the bases……

      Being on the independent agency side, I can say the model has certainly changed from when I first started. I thought I was supposed to be coasting at this point; I have more pressure for new production now than I ever did. Good thing I like it, huh?

      I do recall your story about your insurance background; thanks for sharing your good times. Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great weekend.

    • I like it; I think I will call it Insurance Sucks……….oh wait, everybody already thinks that, huh?

      I got your e-mail and it sounds like something I can work with; I have some ideas and will give it some thought and get back with you on it. Thanks for the GP offer.

      Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by. I tried to go by your place a couple of days ago and it wouldn’t let me in; I meant to send you a msg and ask if you were having any problems with your site.

  5. Let me know if you’re opening a branch in Norway 🙂

    I have thought a lot about insurance companies after I’ve started being social with you. To me, until I met you, insurance companies was something I really didn’t enjoy much. I paid my insurance because I had to, not because I wanted to. And I have also had a few bad experiences with a few companies.. there seems to always be something in the details that we didn’t know about when we go the insurance 🙂

    Anyway, you’ve changed how I look at insurance companies, and that’s actually a huge compliment 🙂

    • The reality is most of your interactions with insurance people are not good ones; we are trying to explain why your premium went up even though you had no claims, or ‘I know the accident wasn’t your fault and I know you can’t replace your car for $8,000, but this is all it’s worth and that is all we can pay you’.

      First of all, you are going to buy insurance, so you might as well buy it from me, right? Secondly, I do try to educate my customers on what it looks like in the event of a loss so there are no surprises. Usually surprises in insurance are not good ones, so I try to minimize those through education when possible.

      Truthfully, the industry does not do a good job of making the interaction a ‘feel good’ one; especially in the claims process. We try to hold their hand when necessary.

      I have had two claims settle out for close to $2 mil each; in both cases I was satisfied we had made sure the customer had ‘enough’ insurance. That is why you need insurance; those are the claims that put you out of business if you don’t have enough. And both were vehicle related and not related to the business operations per se.

      Thanks for enduring my primer and next week we will talk about deductibles……………:). Good to see you, is it pizza time yet?

  6. Bill,

    WHAT!? Insurance not sexy! Have you not seen the Allstate Aaron Rodgers commercials? Ok, he may be just standing there in amazement but that is all he needs to do.

    I love our insurance guy. We have been with him for 8 years and he is always trustworthy. He’s local and family owed. We got lucky because I did the blind scan your finger across the yellow pages way to chose.

    BTW, do your clients know you big pimpin’ on the side?


    • Just like any industry, you will have the very good ‘professionals’ but you will also have the dirt bags too that give everybody a bad name.

      Being on the commercial/business insurance side where the premium dollars are much higher, the business owners are prone to ‘shop’ their account at renewal time. If I ask them why they feel compelled to do so, they might reply ‘we just want to keep you honest’. Huh? Do you really think I haven’t been honest? If so, why would you even want to do business with someone who you don’t think is honest? I know they are just trying to get to the lowest price, but use a different choice of words, ok?

      Just being the broker, the reality is I have very little control over the pricing. Knowing how competitive it is (and being a buyer of insurance myself) I am always pushing the company’s to give me their ‘best’ pricing.

      I have a few clients who have seen me in social; don’t know if they have picked up on the pimpin’ gig yet though…….:).

      Thanks for enduring an ‘insurance’ post; good to see you.

  7. The many talented insurance guy – congrats, Bill!

    When you decide to go global, I might have to say goodbye to my own broker, he is a good guy besides having a weird hobby like fly fishing, so will you give it a thought?

    • I’m sure many would say my blogging seems to be a weird hobby, huh? We actually do have a global presence through being a partner in Assurex Global, but it’s geared more to the larger commercial accounts so your broker is safe for now……..:).

      I had about 3 versions of this post in my head, but I guess we see which one won, huh?

      Thanks for stopping by, hope your weekend is going well.

  8. Hey Bill,
    I like how you did this “convergence” as Ruth called it. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to do that on my site while keeping with my theme.
    If anyone can change the face of the insurance salesman, I think you can. Through blogging! How cool is that! Hmmm…. a business where you sell a product that people need and where what can differentiate you from your competitors is a bit of TLC and good relationship building. Interesting!
    P.S. What time to you publish your blog? I looked for your yesterday and thought maybe you were stepping away again! But then I’m on the East Coast – the earliest of birds, except for maybe Kaarina and Betsy!

    • Ken Mueller has offered a GP opportunity along those same lines; I like it and it has put some ideas in my head from a branding/direction standpoint. Hmmmmm…..I’ll just have to see how we flesh this out, huh?

      This post was # 3 in the hopper; I had something entirely different for Wed morning and decided I didn’t like it. Number two for Thurs didn’t make it in time for an am post and I eventually decided I didn’t like it either. By the time I cleaned this up it was mid-day Fri so I thought, what the heck, let’s see what a Fri afternoon post does……..and on insurance no less………..:). DOA, huh?

      I’m the same time as you and Kaarina so it’s just my weird new model as to not sticking to a set schedule in posting.

      Good to see you; thanks for dropping by. I hope your weekend goes well.

  9. If I had known that none of the risks I have insured against would have happened I could have saved myself an absolute fortune Bill! But I guess that’s what it’s all about and the services provided by the industry have given me that ‘peace of mind’ so I’ll just keep on going paying the premiums.

    It’s good to learn a little about your other world Bill and good luck in all you do 🙂

    • Ah yes, if we had that crystal ball and could pick and choose the years we needed it, huh? Of course then since it hadn’t been spread out over time you would have to have a much bigger chunk of change for pay for the loss.

      Peace of mind is what we sell, but if it means I can’t catch a beer at the pub because I’m paying for insurance, I might have a ‘mean’ peace of mind going on……..:).

      Yes, it’s a necessary evil so I try to make it as pleasant as it can be. Kind of like a dentist with Novocaine, right?…..yikes…….

      Thanks for stopping by Tony, I hope all is well at your place.

  10. So I guess my question is there some sort of large company real-life “school” in the insurance industry? Like you said above, I’ve always assumed it was like real estate and other agented businesses. You find a job at a small firm, grind it out with cold calls, and see if you’re one of the ones still standing after a few years.

    In other industries, there are the proving grounds that people try to go to early in their careers. Want to do product marketing, go log a few years at P&G. Want to do consulting, go do a few at McKinsey. Is there anything like that in the insurance industry? Maybe that’s what the industry needs???

    That… and being highlighted on billdorman.me. 🙂 TTYS

    • We all know salesmen are a dime a dozen, right? Like blogging or anything else, you hope you figure it out enough to be the last one standing, huh? Actually, the degree program is geared more for a company position; there was nothing about sales. The knowledge base got me in the industry and I had to figure out sales from there.

      However, a good service team member is more than worth their weight in gold. Yes, I can take the credit for getting the account in the door, but my account manager is the glue that will be the make or break difference how long we keep the account.

      Not only do they have to process their daily work; they are fielding phone calls all day long for requests to add vehicles, review a contract, send a certificate out, asking a coverage question, etc. And of course, everybody they come in contact with has a different personality. So in addition to drinking from a fire hose most of the time, they have to do it with a smile on their face. I forgot to add, you have to know insurance too and it could be property, auto, liability, workers comp, equipment, etc, etc, etc and all with different forms.

      It is very hard to find someone who can do all of that well. There are very few ‘real life’ schools who can prepare somebody for this. This is where I see the biggest void, on the knowledge, service and people side. They would fire me 10 times quicker than they would fire my account manager, trust me. And if I tried to do all that on my own, my accounts would leave me so fast it wouldn’t even be funny……..

      I might not try to find a way to fill that void, but I think I can shed some realities through my voice on the blog.

      Good to see you my friend; thanks for dropping by. I hope you have a great weekend.

  11. Hi Bill, Call me weird, but I place a very high value on insurance. I’ve never filed a claim with my insurance policy, but I fully understand the importance of being covered.

    When we were preparing to move to England, I found out that our homeowner’s insurance wouldn’t cover our property since we were moving out of the country. I had a very difficult time finding someone who would even consider it since our house has a swimming pool.

    I finally found someone who could cover us for 5x what we were currently paying. I was about to go with him when I heard about another agent who could get us fully covered for just about $200 more than we were already paying in premiums. He spent time on the phone with me, making sure to cover all the bases and understand my issues. I felt reassured that he would take good care of us even though we were going to be an ocean away.

    Needless to say, I went with him and kept our insurance with him when we moved back to the US, adding our cars to his account. I’ve also referred quite a few friends to him as I know he will take good care of them as well.

    If I were to inherit a major Florida business, say Disney World, you would be the very first person I would call, Bill! 🙂

    • We can handle attractions, give me a call…..:). I actually do write http://boktowergardens.org/ and http://www.fantasyofflight.com/, maybe Disney or Legoland will be next, huh?

      I’m glad you found a good one, we are out there. Like any industry, you will have good ones and some not so good. The main thing is the communication and minimization of surprises. Most surprises in insurance are not good ones.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by; I hope your weekend is going well.

  12. Hey Mr. Insurance Man! I agree with Ruth, you can bring sexy back to insurance.

    Now I don’t have that bad taste in my mouth when it comes to insurance because my Uncle was an insurance salesman and he did very well. His son fell in his footsteps and he got my business for my life insurance.

    A good friend of ours recommended a guy to speak to about health insurance for my Mom and he’s a fabulous man. Very caring, very warm and extremely knowledgeable. So, I went with him for my health as well.

    I’ve been with the same insurance agency for my car since I was 16 years old so when I got my home I just had them write that policy as well. Yep, that’s right! I’m a pretty loyal client but they’ve treated me well so I don’t have a bad taste in my mouth for your profession. The prices maybe but the need, not so much!

    Let’s put it this way Bill, if you were able to cover people everywhere I think a lot of your blogging friends would definitely give you their business. Why? Because we all know you’d treat us right! That’s just the kind of guy you are. But of course, you’d never be able to retire! 🙂 So, you up for the job? lol…

    Have a great weekend Bill and sorry I’m late getting by. See you later for sure.

    • I’m going global……….:). Actually, for most of my friends who just have personal insurance needs, it’s probably best to have someone local in case you need some hand holding. Sounds like you have some good ones.

      It has been a very good career for me; it suits my personality well. Fortunately I found a way to stick.

      Went to the beach today and weekend is going great; hope you do the same. Thanks for stopping by; much appreciated.

  13. Hi Bill…you are SO right…insurance is one of those necessary evils…when we DO needit,we are SO glad to have it. In my profession, I have to carry all kinds of insurance in order to protect not only myself but my patients and my employees. Is it expensive? You betcha…buti wouldn’t ever want to risk being without it. Interestingly my son followed a similar path to yours…majored in finance and foreign diplomacy and ultimately ended up working for BC/BS in Jackson Hole,WY ( I know…rough,right? Almost like Florida!!) and he’s doing so well…moving up,making great contacts AND he really likes his career!
    Thanks for sharing your story!

    • We used to write a lot of dentist’s practices with the Cincinnati Ins Co; they included the professional with the other coverages and it was usually reasonably priced and included nice extras too.

      Not many like stroking that check, but in time of need, you are certainly glad you did.

      We just switched our group health ins to BC/BS; so far, so good. Jackson Hole would be nice………:).

      Good to see you and thanks for stopping by; hope your weekend is going well.

  14. Bill,

    When I think of insurance I think of cave men, geckos, football players trying to be funny, oh, and those really odd Farmer’s Insurance commercials. But I realize you’re on an entirely different level, so your gig might be a bit sexier. I don’t know.

    My insurance co. did great recently when my car was practically totaled. It was parked on a street next to my office (fairly close to a dumpster :)) Anyway, it was a Monday morning and I guess the garbage truck driver was either hungover, still crocked, or both, because he skipped the dumpster by the restaurant and plowed into my car, pushing it about 30 feet down the street. Looked like an smashed accordion when he was done with it.

    Anyway considering what what going on with my father I figured there were way more important things to worry about. So when I laughed, the cop on the scene just gave me a strange look. Like this guy is crazy. I actually thought it was funny and couldn’t stop laughing. Anyway, the insurance co. took care of things pretty quickly, so now the premiums don’t hurt quite so much.

    Later on, insurance blogger.

    • I will go with the cave man persona except I don’t have the hairy body to go with it……..:). I can be a neanderthal though.

      The businesses I deal with expect to pay for insurance; they might beat you up shopping it to death, but they budget for it. Therefore, you try to bring other solutions to help them reduce their total cost of risk to get you out of ‘vendor’ status and into trusted adviser status.

      I’m glad you had a good experience; I think the industry could do a better job of making that a ‘wow’ experience instead of a ‘doh’ experience at times however.

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in; hope your weekend is going well for you sir. And yes, my wife and I went to the beach today….:)

  15. Bill,

    I didn’t know much about insurance until I met my husband, who is an actuary. And *he* didn’t know much about insurance when he went for his first interview many years ago. Fast forward, one of my best clients is an insurance agency (and my husband’s company is doing well, too). So I’m always looking for ways to make insurance more palatable to the public (via the website); the agency I work for has a great attitude and a friendly style.

    • Thanks for stopping by Leora; unfortunately that is the way it is with insurance, most don’t ‘know’ about it until they happen to fall in to it. I think the schools should do a better choice of letting people know it is a pretty darn good career choice, and even with the internet, we will always need people working in insurance.

      When your product isn’t tangible, and you actually hope you don’t have to use it, it is hard to make it a warm and fuzzy. My objective is just to ‘humanize’ it.

      If you don’t mind, can you share the agency’s website you are working with? We just revamped ours at http://www.lanierupshaw.com and it looks much better than before, that’s for sure.

      Good luck with your journey and hope you had a great weekend.

  16. Both of my grandfathers sold insurance so I grew up thinking that it is a job for old men. 😉

    Actually we talked about the business quite a bit. Over the years I have been recruited by a few friends who thought that insurance and I would make a fine pair.

    Residuals, can’t count the number of times they talked to me about residuals.

    I spent more than a few years in sales so I had some sense of what it might be like. Anyway, I used to have some great conversations with my grandfathers about sales in general. I have very fond memories of sitting with them and listening to them talk about their Blue Cross adventures.

    You are right about the need for good insurance. When you really need it is when you really find out whether you have enough or not.

    • I’m typically on the other side of the fence from the Blue Cross brokers as they typically deal w/ life and health products; but on the property and casualty side we have renewals. As long as you keep your customer you will continue to get paid; that is really the only part that is somewhat predictable as my salary is 100% commission, I do not have a guaranteed paycheck.

      I think you could do quite well; you certainly have a way with words and have enough hard hardheadedness and stubbornness not to let a few setbacks deter you from the ultimate goal.

      You hope you never need it; you wish somebody else was paying for it; but damn glad you have enough when you need it, huh?

      So I see you are not big Pats or Raven fans, huh? Ray ‘killer’ Lewis went to high school in my home town BTW. It’s really a toss up for me, I don’t have allegiance to any of them so just hoping for good games.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  17. My mom used to be in insurance, so I have no negative associations. sure, there are some slimy fellows out there, but isn’t that true for any profession? I’ve met slimy doctors and lawyers (surprise!) and teachers and whatever. I love how you’re highlighting that your industry is hiring at a time when everyone wants to just focus on the doom and gloom. Thank your for this positive post, Bill. Your passion for insurance shines through and I’m sure that you’ve converted a few people today. :o)

    Huge hugs to you and lots of good vibes! And if you ever want to open something in Barcelona (they do excellent service centers here, all native speakers, before you think I’m joking), let me know. :o)


    • Ok, so now that everyone knows, they just don’t want me to drone on about deductibles, exclusions, etc, huh?

      Truth be known, I had insurance contract classes for two semesters that started at 8 am. I felt like jabbing a pencil in my ear. We literally read an old school property contract written in archaic language for the class. I was having doubts I could make it or not as it really was not interesting at all. The kicker was, the school of insurance had a 98% job placement ratio. Therefore, I figured I would give it a try.

      I was reluctant to pursue the ‘sales’ path because I had never sold anything and didn’t know if I would be any good. Fast forward to now, I couldn’t have picked a profession more suited to my personality. Funny how that LOA works, huh?

      I’ve already heard Barcelona is the place to be; just might have to give that some thought………:).

      Good to see you, thanks for coming by. I hope your weekend went well.

  18. Hey Bill!

    I love the meeting of your worlds in this post! You actually kept my interest while talking about insurance! Ok, so part of it is probably because it was you who was doing the writing, but, hey. You’re a shining star in the insurance community. I’ll help to spread the word for you and hopefully some talented young blood will get your message and join forces with you to start a new, sexy world of insurance!!

    • Uh oh, did I forget to reply………..yikes………I will say it has been a crazy week that has taken me offline quite a bit; but all good.

      Thanks so much for dropping by; sexy insurance, I like that. Probably more so for the people in it than the people buying it, huh?

      I hope you have a great weekend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s